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KHN First Edition: August 20, 2015


First Edition

Thursday, August 20, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

Today's early morning highlights from the major news organizations.

Kaiser Health News: Poll: Americans Favor Government Action On Drug Prices
Just over half of Americans (54 percent) are currently taking a prescription drug. While most say their drugs are easy to afford, consumers in general (72 percent) believe drug costs are unreasonable, according to the poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent part of the foundation.) More people (51 percent) think competition would do a better job of controlling prices than federal regulation (40 percent). But large majorities said they would favor allowing Medicare to negotiate with companies on prices and allowing people to buy medicines imported from Canada. (8/20)

Los Angeles Times: House Lawsuit Against Obama Is Turning Into A Real Problem For The President
An unprecedented House lawsuit against President Obama that was once derided as a certain loser looks stronger now and may soon deliver an early legal round to Republican lawmakers complaining of executive branch overreach. A federal judge is expected to decide shortly whether to dismiss the suit, but thanks to an amended complaint and a recent Supreme Court ruling, the Republican-backed case has a much better chance of proceeding, attorneys agree. At issue is whether the House may sue in court to defend its constitutionally granted "power of the purse" if the president spends money that was not appropriated by Congress. The lawsuit alleges that Obama's top aides quietly claimed the power to spend $178 billion over the next decade to reimburse health insurers for covering the cost of co-payments for low-income people who buy subsidized insurance under the Affordable Care Act. (Savage, 8/20)

The New York Times: Arkansas Governor Wants To Keep Medicaid Expansion, But With Changes
Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas on Wednesday told an advisory group weighing the future of the state’s alternative Medicaid expansion that he favored keeping it — but only if the federal government allowed changes that seemed intended to appeal to conservative legislators who continue to oppose the program. Mr. Hutchinson, a Republican who took office in January, created the advisory group to recommend whether to change or replace the state’s “private option” version of Medicaid expansion. The program’s fate will ultimately be decided by the Republican-controlled legislature, which is likely to meet in a special session this year to vote on it. (Goodnough, 8/19)

Politico: Drug Costs Dislodge Obamacare As GOP Voters' Top Health Care Concern
Scott Walker, Marco Rubio and others are competing for the best plan to replace Obamacare, a unified theme among Republican presidential contenders. But there is growing evidence that even GOP voters are more concerned about curbing drug prices than dislodging the president’s signature health program. In April, the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation was surprised by a poll showing more Republicans view drug prices as the No. 1 health care priority than repealing Obamacare. So the foundation looked further, asking Americans what steps they would back to reduce drug costs. (Norman, 8/20)

The Associated Press: Poll: Majority In US Wants Gov't To Curb Prescription Costs
A new poll finds that Americans strongly support government action to control prescription drug costs, regardless of their political affiliation. The 2016 presidential candidates continue to spar over President Barack Obama's 5-year-old law that expanded coverage for the uninsured. But the latest survey by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation suggests that the public is moving on to other health care issues. (8/20)

The Washington Post's Wonkblog: How Health Care Reform Adds To Wal-Mart’s Pharmacy Woes
A footnote in Wal-Mart's second quarter earnings release this week highlighted one of the many effects of more people gaining health insurance under the Affordable Care Act: its pharmacies are no longer as profitable. The retail giant blamed weak quarterly earnings that underperformed expectations partly on challenges facing its U.S. pharmacy business. (Johnson, 8/20)

The Wall Street Journal: Samsung Makes First Foray Into U.S. Stock Market With Biotech Listing
Samsung will make its first entry into U.S. stock markets with an anticipated $1 billion listing of its biotechnology affiliate, according to people familiar with the matter, marking a major step in the South Korean conglomerate’s foray into a new industry outside its better-known electronics business. The listing of Samsung Bioepis Co. on the Nasdaq Stock Market will allow the company to raise money as it pours billions of dollars into research and development and production facilities to tap into the nascent and fast-growing field of biosimilars. Biosimilars are biotechnology drugs analogous to generic drugs. (Cheng and Lee, 8/20)

The Washington Post: Bush And Trump Face Off In N.H. — And The Donald Is Winning
Then Bush went on the attack. He fired his toughest shots to date at Trump, saying the businessman “doesn’t have a proven conservative record” because he is a former Democrat who once supported tax increases and a single-payer health-care system. ... At an Elk’s Lodge in Salem, N.H., Wednesday, Kasich talked about his record of pragmatism in Congress and as governor as well as his compassion for the poor, the drug addicted and the mentally ill. (Rucker and DelReal, 8/19)

The Associated Press: Feeling Sense Of 'Urgency,' Walker Says He'll Get Aggressive
Walker faced criticism for lacking passion in his first GOP debate performance earlier this month. But he's begun to show more spark on the trail in Iowa and New Hampshire this week, confronting protesters at the Iowa State Fair and criticizing Republicans in Congress for failing to repeal the president's health care law as he rolled out his own replacement plan. At multiple events in New Hampshire on Wednesday he reminded crowds of his fights with Wisconsin's unions and his survival of a 2012 recall election. (8/19)

The Washington Post: While In Vegas, O’Malley Makes An Appearance In Front Of Trump’s Hotel
Yvanna Cancela, the political director of the culinary union, said O'Malley on Wednesday "gave one of the best speeches of the convention." She said she was pleased in particular by his pledge to address one of the union's top priorities: repealing the so-called "Cadillac tax" in the Affordable Care Act. At issue is a 40 percent tax on expensive insurance plans, scheduled to take effect in 2018, that’s meant to slow the growth in health-care spending while raising revenue. (Wagner and Rucker, 8/19)

The Wall Street journal: State Lawmakers Target Fetal-Tissue Research
The release of videos about Planned Parenthood is spurring state legislative efforts to ban or restrict use of fetal tissue for medical studies and treatments. Republicans in Arizona, California, Ohio, New Jersey and Wisconsin have introduced bills or taken action to restrict or oversee fetal tissue—pitting antiabortion advocates who say the practice of using it in research is immoral against scientists who say it is vital for breakthroughs that save lives. (Armour, 8/19)

The Associated Press: El Paso Abortion Clinic Will Be First To Reopen In Texas
An El Paso clinic shuttered by Texas’ tough abortion laws is set to become the first to reopen since the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked enforcement of key restrictions nearly two months ago. The reopening of the Reproductive Services facility would mean the country’s second most-populous state has 20 abortion clinics — down from 41 in 2012. (Weissert, 8/19)

NPR: So Long, Big Mac: Cleveland Clinic Ousts McDonald's From Cafeteria
One of the most prestigious names in health care is taking a stand on food. This week, Cleveland Clinic announced it would sever ties with McDonald's. As of Sept. 18, the McDonald's branch located in the Cleveland Clinic cafeteria will turn off its fryers and close its doors for good. Its lease will not be renewed. (Aubrey, 8/19)

The Wall Street Journal: The Dangers Of The Street Drug K2
A synthetic form of marijuana is getting noticed by New York officials after a rash of users have ended up in the emergency room and often behaved violently in public. But cracking down on the drug, most commonly known as K2, poses a different set of challenges from trying to get older drugs off the streets of New York City, according to local, state and federal officials. (Francescani, 8/19)

The New York Times: Louis Stokes, Congressman From Ohio And Champion Of The Poor, Dies At 90
Inadequate health care for minorities was a major concern of his, and he was an early advocate of federal intervention in the AIDS crisis, which was ravaging black communities in the 1990s. Interviewed for this obituary in 2011, Mr. Stokes said he was particularly proud of sponsoring legislation that established the Office of Minority Health as a permanent federal agency. “That started the real work of that office,” he said. (Hevesi, 8/19)

Los Angeles Times: South Pasadena Nursing Home Gets A New Start With Ownership Change
For eight years, South Pasadena police had a nursing home on their radar, as officers responded to 1,100 calls for service, some involving violent crimes. ... During a 2012 meeting with police, nursing home operators promised to do what they could to keep the rate of calls down. And they did — by rerouting 911 calls back to the facility's nursing station, according to police.On Wednesday, on the steps of the facility formerly known as the South Pasadena Convalescent Hospital, Miller joined city officials in touting a change in ownership. Miller said he hopes to see a turnaround at the nursing home, which the new owners renamed South Pasadena Care Center. (Mejia, 8/19)

The Associated Press: Shannen Doherty's Lawsuit Reveals Actress Has Breast Cancer
The former "Beverly Hills, 90210" star claims that her former business managers and accountants mismanaged her money and allowed her health insurance to lapse last year. Because of that, she said she didn't go to the doctor until she had insurance and there was a delay in diagnosing her cancer, which will likely require more drastic treatments, including a possible mastectomy and chemotherapy. (8/19)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent operating program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2014 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.

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